WASHINGTON — The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) works diligently to advance the agenda of its 12 tire-producing member companies, no matter who the president is or how much gridlock there is in Washington.
And this year is no different. The association has set forth a list of core initiatives that it plans to focus on in 2022 and the years to come. USTMA President Anne Forristall Luke expounded on four of those areas in an exclusive interview with Rubber News, a sister publication of Tire Business.
1. Sustainable tire materials
At the top of the list are tire materials and the sustainability of tire materials, a subject that has been a topic of research in the industry for decades. Some of the work here, she said, will focus on tire road-wear particles, the impact of a byproduct of the antioxidant 6ppd, and zinc, which has been getting attention recently in California.
The USTMA expects to work with a wide range of collaborators on tire materials.
"There is interest there among the academic scientific community, among the regulatory community and among the tire manufacturers and non-governmental organizations focused on making the safest tire that is also the most environmentally responsible tire," Forristall Luke said.
2. What to do with scrap tires
Scrap tires, an area of concern for the USTMA going back about three decades, will be another area of continued analysis, she said. The goal is to expand the scrap tire market to provide stable infrastructure solutions. In recent years, the generation of scrap tires has outpaced the development of new sustainable markets, Luke said, creating new challenges for the USTMA.
As such, the association will work with other stakeholders — such as the Tire Industry Association — to reverse that trend.
"We see potential for major investment in surface transportation infrastructure that provides a lot of opportunities to address several of those sustainable issues simultaneously," Forristall Luke said.
That will include pushing for more widespread use of rubber-modified asphalt to help modernize highways, making them more durable and resistant.
3. How to manage climate change
Climate change is another core USTMA initiative and one that gridlock in Washington will "increase the pressure on the (Biden) administration — even if it's self-applied pressure—to move its climate agenda through the regulatory agencies."
The USTMA is focused on working through agencies such as the U.S. Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Commerce to ensure that energy-efficiency advancements developed by tire makers are part of the solution.
"We definitely see climate (change) as an opportunity for tire manufacturers because we have spent a lot on R&D to make our tires as energy-efficient as possible," Forristall Luke said. "With decreased rolling resistance, we've reduced greenhouse gases significantly."
Retreaded tires also can play a role here, she added, because they significantly decrease energy consumption, carbon footprints and raw material usage.
4. Shareholder and partner engagement
Increasing stakeholder and partner engagement is a key area of focus championed by USTMA Chair Paolo Ferrari, Bridgestone Americas Inc. president and CEO. Forristall Luke said Ferrari wants to see growth in the concept of partnerships and creation of platforms to allow multiple stakeholders and partners to focus on industry challenges that affect society and impact the industry as a whole.
"We're looking for ways to come together in a collaborative way among ourselves and other partners to drive solutions to some of these big industry societal challenges," she said.